Saturday, January 5, 2013

From "City of Sadness" to Tourist Madness

Photo by Kevin Willett

A film about Taiwan's Dark Days shone spotlight on Juifen
Right after the 921 Earthquake that rocked Taiwan in 1999, I spent my first Moon Festival with my gf in Juifen (Chuifen), on the north-east coast of Taiwan. Far from the madding crowds in Taipei, it felt for a while like going to heaven. A little like Banff. A taste of Japan.

As you can see, this city in the clouds is a picturesque mountainside town. But during the height of the Japanese colonial era, it was a booming gold-mining town. "Little Shanghai." It went into decline when the events of World War II forced the mine to close.

But the collection of historical buildings made Jiufen the ideal location for the filming of City of Sadness -  the first Chinese-language film to win the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in 1989.

Seen through the eyes of one family, City of Sadness was the first film to deal openly with the KMT's dictatorial reign of terror after Taiwan was "handed-over" from Japan to Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist China. 

The film was also the first to depict the infamous 228 Incident of 1947, in which thousands of people were massacred by Nationalist troops that Chiang sent from China to put down Taiwan's version of "the Arab Spring." Tens of thousands of Taiwanese and mainland Chinese were rounded up, shot, sent to prison or "disappeared."

As one war veteran told me, "Chiang's troops landed at [the nearby port of Keelung] and started firing at anything that moved."

Despite the dark and depressing story, the success of the movie had the odd effect of turning the almost forgotten town into a popular attraction full of tea houses, coffee shops, artisans and tourists. Legions. Myriads.

So - on a good day - Juifen is about one hour from Taipei by train or by car. On a bad day -  such as the last day of a Chinese holiday or a long weekend - it can take three hours or more of hellish driving. Trust me, I've done it.

Photo by Kevin Willett

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei

Photo Copyright: by Kevin Willet

Last Emperor of China and the Mandate of Heaven
Every media visit, every guided tour of Taiwan stars with a visit to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, As a temple dedicated to the Last god-emperor of China, it's deliberately modelled on the Temple of Heaven in Beijing's Forbidden City. It's the centrepiece of Chiang Kai-Shek Square, modelled on Tiananmen Square. It's meant to perpetuate the idea that Taiwan is the one true China and that Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT successors have the Mandate of Heaven.

The Democratic Progressive Party - during its eight-year interregnum (2000-2008) - re-branded Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall as "Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall" It renamed Chiang Kai-Shek Square as "Liberty Square." It was meant put the country's dictatorial past behind and highlight the way to a democratic future.

But the KMT Old Guard were up in arms (literally) and the best the DPP could do was paper over the past... literally. When the KMT got back in office (they were never out of power) the first thing they did was reinstate CKS and his family (wife Soong Mei-ling and son Chiang Ching-kou) and as the unholy trinity.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall now has a souvenir shop where you can buy the idols for your home shrine: Chiang Kai-Shek, Chiang Ching-kou, and Sun Yat-sen. Even Mao Tse-tung. Don't be surprised - the KMT has been in bed with the Chinese Communist Party since the KMT lost the presidential election in 2000.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Big Bang 2013 Taipei 101 New Year Fireworks 新年快樂

2013 Taipei 101 New Year Fireworks HD 1080p complete 2013年台北101煙火 Taiwan - YouTube

新年快樂   Happy New Year from a country where they "overwhelmingly value their democracy" but keep electing the party of dictators, while imprisoning those who fight for democracy.

But it's the same old song from a people who "want to be the masters of their own fate" and yet refuse to do anything about it - except cry to the world and deliver up their messiahs to be crucified.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Japanese visit to disputed islands sparks China protest

Japanese visit to disputed islands sparks China protest - World - CBC News

Now here's a much better story done by real journalists at The Canadian Press and carried by The CBC.

 (Getting the story right is one of the reasons all the columnists at Sun Media are constantly agitating for the gov't to kill The CBC.)

 This story prominently mentions Taiwan's claim to the islands:

Ten Japanese made an unauthorized landing on Uotsuri, the largest in a small archipelago known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands and in China as the Diaoyu Islands. The uninhabited islands surrounded by rich fishing grounds are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

It also explains that the Japanese invasion of the islands was in response to an earlier Chinese stunt:

Days earlier, a group of 14 Hong Kong residents and mainland Chinese travelled by boat to the islands, some swimming ashore. Protesters in Beijing, Hong Kong and other cities praised them as heroes and burned Japanese flags, but Japan arrested the 14 for landing without authorization.

Taiwan's KMT government didn't seem to mind "Communist Bandits from the mainland" invading Taiwanese territory. But the minute the Japanese plant the flag on the Diaoyu...

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Timothy Yang summoned Japan's de facto ambassador to Taiwan, Sumio Tarui, on Sunday to lodge a protest over the visit by the Japanese activists to the islands, which are about 190 kilometres off Taiwan's northeastern coast. Yang said the "provocative act" had heightened tensions in the area...

Proof - if you ever needed it - that the KMT ancien regime of Ma Ying-jeou is not interested in Taiwanese identity or sovereignty, only Chinese sovereignty. The KMT is the government of, for and by China and is now acting as a proxy for Beijing.

And news stenographers in China and Taiwan are reinforcing the idea of "One China" - of which Taiwan is only a small part.

Chinese protest over Japan island

Chinese protest over Japan island dispute. | Watch the video - Yahoo! News Canada

Unidentified members from a Japanese nationalist group land on Uotsuri island, part of the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Watch the video report from Reuters, then read:

Note what this story says:
"Tokyo and Beijing have been feuding for decades over the island chain, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China."

 This is what happens when Reuters lets local stringers file stories instead of using real reporters.  Real reporters can be stringers - but being a stringer doesn't make you a reporter. And having a digital video cam doesn't make you a "citizen journalist."

There is no mention of the fact that the islands are actually closer to Taiwan and that Taiwan ALSO claims the islands. Or that China's claim to the islands is entirely dependent on its bogus claim to Taiwan. Or the fact that Taiwan's claim to the Diaoyutai is more legitimate than China's.

I suppose it would help if Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jou and the KMT ancien regime in Taiwan would stop saying that Taiwan is China or that Taiwan and the mainland are both part of one China or...
Confused? That's because "You are not Chinese so you do not understand Chinese affairs, I mean Taiwanese affairs!" to quote Chairman Ma.

BTW, since this protest is in China, I deeply suspect that this protest was about as spontaneous as all the KMT-organized "people's protests" in Taiwan. And given the police unwillingness to put down the protest, the "demonstrators" were probably as real as the PLA soldiers dressed up as Tibetan rioters in Lhasa.

Monday, December 12, 2011

American Freedom Fighter visits imprisoned Taiwanese democracy leader

Missionary pays secret visit to Chen Shui-bian in Taipei jail today, gives him his memoirs of KMT's "White Terror '' days

(Got this story in my e-mail. Media embargoed till Monday evening Taiwan time. But I'm not "media" and I'm not in Taiwan. So here it is...)

webposted by anonymous

Former US missionary in Taiwan Milo Thornberry,  75, who was a central figure in helping human rights leader Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) escape from Taiwan during the years of the White Terror, paid a private personal visit to former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian today, inside the jail where Chen now whiles away his days.

During the private visit, which was intentionally kept out of the
media limelight, and was just a personal private meeting between to
old friends, Dr. Thornberry gave a copy of his memoir about his Taiwan days to President Chen, who is serving a 15 year prison sentence in a Taipei jail.

Thornberry went to Taiwan as a missionary of the Methodist Church at the end of 1965 and over the next few years — as recounted in his
recently published book Fireproof Moth — secretly distributed
money to the families of political prisoners.

He and his wife also worked to inform the outside world of the
torture, the executions and the repression practiced under the Martial
Law era regime of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

In particular, he collaborated with Peng and two former students —
Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏) and Wei Ting-chao (魏廷朝) — who were both arrested, “horribly tortured,” tried in a secret court and served long prison terms.

According to Thornberry, who is now retired but still gives sermons
and speeches as a Methodist pastor, the “shadows” from the period of
martial law had a bearing on the diverging views of Taiwan’s future.

After democratization in Taiwan, none of the officials responsible for
the White Terror were brought to account, Thornberry told the Taipei
Times recently.

“Since the election of the [President] Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)]
administration, not much has been heard from it about the period of
White Terror,” he added.

“Does the KMT [Kuomingtang or Chinese Nationalist Party] simply want to forget that period, believing that younger generations who didn’t experience White Terror will not care about it?” he asked.

However, he said, until this past is acknowledged openly and dealt
with justly, “I wonder if Taiwan can live into the future without

“The shadows of the conspiracy of silence also fall on the US
government,” he says.

“Some in today’s administration seem little more concerned about the
hopes and aspirations of the Taiwanese people than they were during
the period of White Terror,” he says.

“Although they knew the reality, they deemed it in the U.S. national
interest to disregard the Taiwanese people in favor of Chiang
Kai-shek,” Thornberry says.

“Now, I fear that the Taiwanese people’s interests are disregarded
because of U.S. interests in China, not to mention the complication of
our indebtedness to China. The issues now and then are different, but
the readiness to disregard the will of the Taiwanese people is the
same,” he says.

Thornberry's visit to Chen in prison was arranged by Chen's friends,
and was a purely private, personal visit between two old friends.
Thornberry had met Chen two times when he serving as president of Taiwan in 2003 and again in 2008.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Matthew Lien - Music and Liner Notes
from a Canadian Musician in Taiwan

Story By Stephen A. Nelson 
(from The Maple Leaf)

His name is Matthew Lien, a Canadian guy with English first name and what sounds like a Chinese family name.  He's a big star in Taiwan, but when hanging out with Canadians, he’s just a regular guy... I feel like we should be talking about hockey and Taiwanese girls.